Teach dream


Questions to Think About:

– What are the assumptions we hold about the trajectories towards higher education for undocumented students?

– How do we, as educators, navigate the conflict between supporting our students’ educational futures and the realities of the obstacles they will and continue to face?


Why this matters:


There are many students who work hard throughout their school years in hopes of one day attending their dream college to attain their dream careers. Many of such students do not find out they are undocumented until it comes to the “citizenship” section of the college application. With a day left before applications are due, the student is lost and confused. Even if they become accepted into the school, they will most often be unable to finance the tuition, leaving them lost and confused once again. It is imperative that every undocumented student be prepared to handle the complicated situation when it comes to applying to colleges.

What’s Below: 

1. Tips for College Bound Students

2. Resources Around College

3. Scholarship Websites

4. How to Apply For In-State Tuition at New York Public Colleges

Tips for College bound Students: 
  • You have the right to attend college in the state of New York. And, undocumented students who have graduated from a NY public high school are eligible for in-state tuition. You must sign an affidavit or go through a process at your chosen institution, such as

  • Look into private colleges. Public colleges are mostly funded by state and federal money so they will not offer financial aid to undocumented students. (With the exception of states that have allowed undocumented students who have graduated high school from such states,  to pay in-state tuition like CUNY or University of California)

  • Some schools, especially those endowed with lots of money, do not take immigration status into consideration when giving out financial aid. For example, Harvard and Yale are free for income qualifying students/families, regardless of immigration status. Call the Financial Aid office and speak to a counselor about the your options.

  • Apply to CUNY schools- they provide in-state tuition for students who graduated from NYC high schools. (See below)

  • Apply to schools with scholarship programs that will cover full/most tuition without regard to immigration status. For example, CUNY has Macaulay Honors College. Hampshire College just opened a scholarship specifically for immigrant students.

  • Do not aim low, aim high. For the most part, those schools with most endowment will offer financial aid to the most students. Do not give up your dreams of attending Yale or Harvard!

  • Speak to the admissions counselors from colleges in your district and ask if they have any advice or tips for you as an undocumented student. Getting to know your counselor before you apply can put you ahead of the game.

  • Apply to as many outside scholarships that are applicable to you. (Some scholarships listed below)




some schools have their own fee waivers (for example, UPenn has their own: http://www.admissions.upenn.edu/images/uploads/docs/PennAppFeeWaiver.pdf)

Visit the websites to find out which waivers they accept/decline

  • Do not give up. Be persistent. Ask questions.


Tips for Talking to Undocumented Youth about College

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Resources around College


“The Road to College Guide.” New York State Youth Leadership Council: Undocumented Youth Leading Change. New York State Youth Leadership Council. Web. 13 March 2013. http://www.nysylc.org/road-to-college/

““ROAD TO COLLEGE” is a guide especially designed for and by immigrant youth. This guide is a first of its kind, tailored specifically for the needs of undocumented immigrant youth. It was created, produced and designed solely by New York State Youth Leadership Council members, who are immigrants and children of immigrants, and as a way to open the doors for immigrant students to achieve their dreams of higher education. We hope this guide will help immigrant youth navigate the application process for college as well as finding ways to afford a college education.”

Kleyn, Tatyana. http://livingundocumented.com/

A film: Diverse DREAMers step out of the shadows to share their experiences, fears and aspirations as undocumented immigrants living in the United States.

Gonzales, Roberto G. “Young Lives on Hold: The College Dreams of Undocumented Students.” College Board Advocacy, April 2009. Web. 13 March 2013. http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/young-lives-on-hold-college-board.pdf

Gonzales outlines the challenging situations faced by undocumented students and describes the “legal paradox” in which they live, where “they have the right to a primary and secondary education and are generally allowed to go on to college, but their economic and social mobility is severely restricted due to their undocumented status.” Gonzales uses stories, arguments, and statistics to make the case for more inclusive immigration reform such as the DREAM Act.


“How to Support College Bound Undocumented Students: Advice for Counselors & Educators.” Educators for Fair Consideration (E4FC). Web. 13 March 2013.


This guide includes general tips on helping undocumented students apply and go to college, as well as resources (many of which are California specific) and advice related to funding for college.


“Keeping the Dream Alive: Resource Guide for Undocumented Students.” National Council for La Raza, 2009. Web. 13 March 2013. http://e4fc.org/images/Achieving_the_Dream_10_09.pdf

“This handbook is designed for school counselors, student advocates, and secondary students, in particular those who are undocumented. Although the legislative information provided varies by state, the generic academic, fundraising, and extracurricular tips are applicable to a typical high school audience. As a general rule, please verify all information provided with local high school, college, and financial counselors.”


Sheehy, Kelsey. “High School Teachers are Key Resource for DREAMers.” USNews. http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/high-school-notes/2012/08/20/high-school-teachers-are-key-resource-for-dreamers

Patel, Leigh. Youth Held at the Border Chapter 9: The Devil You Know. New York: Teachers College Press. 2012.

Leigh Patel’s book, Youth Held at the Border, was a key text for our ItAG. It provides a personal but informative look at immigration issues and how they play out in schools and in students’ lives. While the entirety of Youth Held at the Border is worth reading, this chapter focuses specifically on the challenges of and worries about the college application process and attending college that are faced by undocumented students.


Pedro, William, Susana Munoz, Cynthia Alcantar, & Nancy Guarneros. “Educators Supporting Dreamers: Becoming an Undocumented Student Ally.” White Teachers / Diverse Classrooms. Ed. Julie Landsman & Chance W. Lewis.


This publication describes how educators can be allies to undocumented students in a variety of ways, including during the college application process.


Rincón, Alejandro. “Repository of Resources for Undocumented Students.” College Board, 2012. Web. 13 March 2013.  http://www.e4fc.org/images/Repository-Resources-Undocumented-Students_2012.pdf

Up-to-date as of 2012, this document includes a list of resources (by state) on college admission policies, financial aid and scholarships, and support organizations.



Websites with Scholarships Available to Undocumented Students and Information on Financing College

 Update Oct 29, 2013:

Univision-Es El Momento

Univision has begun a scholarship called The Es El Momento Scholarship which has been available as of October 21, 2013. The Es El Momento Scholarship will be open to all students of Latino/Hispanic heritage regardless of whether they are US citizens or undocumented. The amount awarded for each scholarship is approximately $5,000.
Deadline for the Scholarship November 18, 2013

Eligibility requirements for The Es El Momento Scholarship application:

1. Interested students need to first go online and then register
2. Applicant must be of Latino/Hispanic heritage
3. Minimum of 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale
4. First generation college student
5. Have not already earned a bachelor’s degree
6. Verification of Family Income documents
7. Three Essay Responses (400 to 600 words each) :
a. Tell us about your academic/career short-term and long-term goals. How has your Hispanic heritage influenced these goals?

b. Describe your participation in extracurricular activities (community service, volunteer work, employment, school clubs, sports, family, church, etc.). What have you learned from your experience(s)?

c. Describe a recent academic challenge you have faced. Explain how you overcame it.

Please have electronic copies of transcript(s) (including grades through Spring and or Summer 2013) ready for upload (official or unofficial) in .PDF or .JPG format

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers are in Spanish

If you still have questions that do not have to do with the online application, please email to Univision@hsf.net or call toll free at 1-855-356-6636.


ALSO update on:


Hispanic Scholarship Fund

“Fidel Vargas, Hispanic Scholarship Fund president and CEO, said his group wants to award scholarships to young immigrants lacking permanent legal status.”


This is the direct result of DREAMers and allies pushing HSF on this issue. I’m referring to the following petition:

It sounds like it is limited to those with DACA right now, but is an important first step. Let’s make sure it’s not the last one! If you are a student don’t forget to apply for this years cycle! ”


CUNY: Tuition and Financial Assistance for Undocumented Students



Goddard Riverside Community Center has a list of Scholarships for which Undocumented Students are Eligible

Líderes Initiative Scholarship List:



Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund Scholarship List:



Scholarships A-Z



Youth Leadership Council Scholarship Resources


Organizations providing training on the college application process for undocumented students:

Options Institute at Goddard Riverside Community Center



How to Apply For In-State Tuition at a New York Public Colleges 

All students who have attended a New York State high school for at least two years and received a high school diploma are eligible to receive in-state tuition at a public college in New York.  Students need to know that they do not need to include a social security number on their application.  However, it is important for students to make sure that they are not classified as international students– who pay tuition at a much higher rate and need to provide student visas.

In order to do so, students need to file directly to their college or university:

  • An affidavit showing that they have or will file an application for legal residency
  • Proof of residence


Help for undocumented students seeking to attend post-secondary institutions in New York State (NYU)


CUNY In-State Tuition (CUNY)


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